How to answer the interview question: “What is your greatest weakness?”
You can expect to hear some form of this question in almost every interview. Instead of asking, “What is your greatest weakness?” an employer might ask, “If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?” or “What would your previous manager say you struggled with?” You can prepare one response that will work well in response to any of these questions.
In this article, you’ll learn:
- why an employer would ask about your weakness
- how to approach your answer
- a few things you should never say when answering this question
Why an employer would ask this question
This question seems generic and is one that candidates can easily lie about. Why do employers bother asking about weaknesses? Employers are looking for more than just your weakness. First, your answer shows an employer how you respond to uncomfortable topics of conversation. Are you able to remain composed under pressure and provide an honest answer? Second, employers want to gauge your level of self-awareness. Do you know yourself well enough to know which areas need improvement?
How to approach your answer
How you answer interview questions about your weakness is just as important as the weakness you name. There is a fine line between appearing confident that you can do the job and conveying yourself as arrogant and not self-aware. It’s important that you give a truthful answer to this question.
Review the key skills required for the job and think of a weakness that doesn’t relate to the key skills. This way, you’ll give an honest answer, but one that doesn’t make your employer doubt that you are qualified for the position.
After you’ve identified a weakness that doesn’t relate to the key skills required for the job, think of a way to explain it in a concise way. State the weakness in one sentence, and then talk about how you are improving on the weakness. For example, you could say, “I have difficulty speaking in front of large groups of people. A few months ago I joined a Toastmasters group to learn how to be more confident when speaking publicly.”
Let's talk about what not to say
Avoid generic responses such as, “I am an overachiever” or “I struggle with perfectionism.”
As always, we suggest you write out your answer in advance and practice it several times with a friend or colleague. Being prepared with answer to specific interview questions is one of the easiest and best things you can do to set yourself up for success.